Tuesday, September 29, 2015

a distant memory

julia, do you remember
the night i lost my cigarette lighter
in the wooded path behind the iridescent bandstand
before the failure to remonstrate grew serious?

as the bourgeoisie in their white seersucker suits
and the hoi polloi in their blue hawaiian shirts
forgot the combination to the lock in the depths of despair?
and the band - what exuberance! what passion!

the people have taken to the streets!
vladivostok and port arthur and crocodiles!
“i think i have had just about enough of this lot”

the night spun like the canary islands
and then it was over -
until the cadillacs come back to aurang-zebe

Sunday, September 27, 2015


alabaster boyardee
cherry declasse
enervated fractals
gum balls in the new mown hay

iridescent juggernauts
leading in the kindlly light
mothballs in nocturnal obsolescence
petrified with quiet fright

roll on, roll on, sasketchawan
turn your damper down
underneath your virtuous airs
surge the walpurgnichtical exponentials of clowns

youth will be served forever
when zeroes proliferate beyond the grave
i have walked this way before
when all the streets were paved

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

an unfortunate interruption

part three of three

for part two click here

for part one click here

“i think, before we commence, “ the empress began, “we should agree that the final manifesto we issue should consist of no more than one hundred and forty-four words, as it has been amply demonstrated that this is the maximum number that a human brain can comprehend.”

“does anyone not agree?” the duchess of g——— asked pointedly. no one responded.

“i believe it is settled then,” said the count of a————. “please proceed.”

what a lot of rot, thought terence. but of course he said nothing. how he wished the whole fiasco were over with, so that he could keep his assignation with h————.

“here is my rough draft,” said the empress. she proceeded to recite, without notes:

the peoples of the earth have demanded justice for centuries. justice from gods, justice from kings, and justice from theories. so far they have not been satisfied. the time has now come -“

just then there was a terrible crash and the window opposite the empress was shattered.

all the conspirators knew at once what had happened.

“save yourselves!” cried the elderly, gouty general b————.

but they were already saving themselves.

the rebels seized the baron de d——— (their chief target, at least according to the communique they issued after their bold and largely successful excursion), the count of a————, and fra paolo.

roger, the unfortunate cipher clerk from the embassy of p———, was killed in the melee, but he was not regarded as significant enough to me mentioned either in the rebel’s communique, or in the official statement issued jointly by the involved embassies.

the others all saved themselves. from the rebels, not from the endless recriminations that followed.

later, seated in the club car with terence and the empress, sylvie vowed never to be involved in politics again.

“nonsense,” interposed annette, as she passed their table on her way from the powder room to the bar, “what else can one do for excitement in this dreary age?”

“you might ask the colonel over there, “ terence responded sulkily. the colonel’s face was flat on the bar, the gallant gentleman himself dead drunk.

“where is the barman?” asked the empress, looking around. the question did not seem to require an answer. the colonel and the others had simply helped themselves to the stock behind the bar.

“we should be in c———————— in two hours,” sylvie observed absently.

“yes,” sylvie added as she seated herself with the drink she had poured herself. “at least this train has an engineer. we can be thankful for that.”

“if he has not jumped off at some point,” terence replied sourly. he was still miffed at having missed his assignation with h—————.

sylvie suddenly remembered the faceless man who had been seated in the corner. what had become of him, she wondered?


sources: clarissa, by samuel richardsion; sir charles grandson, by samuel richardson; war and peace, by leo tolstoy; anthony adverse, by hervey allen; the man without qualities, by robert musil; the recognitions, by william gaddis; lord of the rings, by j r r tolkien; the demons, by hermito von doderer; gravity’s rainbow, by thomas pynchon; dhalgren, by samuel delany; infinite jest, by david foster wallace

Monday, September 7, 2015

after dinner the conspirators gathered in front of the fireplace

part two of three

for part one click here

sylvie suddenly remembered where she had seen the colonel before . at the sanitarium at t————, where the conference had taken place to finalize the details of the first catastrophe.

how innocent she had been then!

the colonel for his part - absorbed as he was in his own machinations - had not recognized sylvie, although he was quite taken by her womanly charms.

far paolo was attempting to tell a joke, but it was not going well, as it depended on the hearer’s recognition of the intricacies of long-forgotten heresies.

but who was the faceless man in the corner that sylvie noticed for the first time.

had she been informed of his identity - if she had enquired as to his identity - she might have been surprised by the answer, as the gentleman was widely believed to have perished in the dungeons of the people’s republic of y—————.

the baron de d———, absorbed in his own thoughts, blew a few perfect smoke rings.

sylvie’s mind drifted back to the conference at t————. not to the discussions themselves, but to the perfectly clear air - the first she had ever breathed.

where had far paolo been, when the others had been at table? had the message from the pope really taken up the whole time?

modest as the meal had been, they had had six courses.

after tonight, after the arrangements had been made, nothing would ever be the same. either for the wretched of the earth, or their masters.

the baron smiled to himself, as he considered the deviltry which would soon be unleashed.

and the opportunities it would provide for such as himself.

sylvie twirled the ring on her finger. she had quite forgotten where she had obtained it.

roger and general b————, who had taken their time over dessert - the general because of his advanced age, and roger because he had had three servings - now rejoined the party.

it was time for the last act to begin, and judgment to be levied on the peoples of the earth.

what the gutter press, if it had been privy to the proceedings, would have termed “zero hour”.

annette yawned.

the duchess of g——— rang a little silver bell to get everybody’s attention.

roger stood at the fireplace, behind the empress. the others, even the languid annette and the supremely indifferent baron de b————, arranged themselves in chairs in a semicircle around the empress.

so it has come to this, thought sylvie with some amusement. as great a pack of rascals as has ever been assembled - and not an honest person left in the world.

“if no one has any objections,” intoned the empress, “we will agree that the decisions of this night are to be regarded as final. at least as far as official versions go. as it is unlikely that we shall ever meet again.”

they all agreed, although the count of a——— had to be asked by the empress to speak up, as his response had been somewhat mumbled.

sources: clarissa, by samuel richardsion; sir charles grandson, by samuel richardson; war and peace, by leo tolstoy; the magic mountain, by thomas mann; anthony adverse, by hervey allen; the man without qualities, by robert musil; lord of the rings, by j r r tolkien; the demons, by hermito von doderer; gravity’s rainbow, by thomas pynchon; harlot’s ghost, by norman mailer; infinite jest, by david foster wallace

part three